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Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Not As Simple As It Seems - Eleanor Shepherd
This week, on vacation we were able to visit the Billy
Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I have always admired the Reverend Billy Graham and his single-minded
determination to present people with the claims of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ. He is consistent whether he is
speaking to heads of state, media moguls or crowds of ordinary people.
liked about the presentation is the recognition that while God has used Billy
Graham for His purposes, many other people have been a part of the ministry. The history of evangelism portrays how the
life and ministry of Billy Graham have their part in what has gone before and
what will come after in terms of world evangelism.
As I watched
video clips of the Billy Graham crusades, I realized again how easily we make
assumptions that evangelism is simple process.
Billy Graham preaches the clear Gospel and people immediately respond
and make a decision to follow Christ the rest of their lives.
Billy Graham Library - Charlotte, NC
As I listened to the testimonies of
different individuals who came to faith at Billy Graham crusades or through his
television and radio ministry, their stories confirmed it does not usually happen
quite that magical way. The process is
often much more complex. Someone who makes
a commitment to Christ in response to the preaching of Billy Graham has often
been thinking about the meaning of life for quite a long time. They may have had brief encounters or long
discussions with friends, family members or work acquaintances about
faith. Somehow, as Dr. Graham preaches ideas
begin to crystalize in their minds and they decide to act upon this understanding. Often a loved one has been praying for them
to come to an understanding of the truth for many years. The Spirit of God brings together many different
incidents in the life of a person and uses the ministry of Dr. Billy Graham,
supported by all that is going on in prayer and spiritual warfare behind the
scenes. Integration begins to take place
in the life that person and they are able to recognize the truth of the Gospel
to believe that somehow like magic, when a person has the opportunity to hear
the Gospel preached they will suddenly see the light and be transformed. We crave quick answers and easy fixes. We want things fixed and in good working
order right away.
I think about how when I arrived
at my hotel this evening, I wanted to be able to link up to the Internet right away,
so I could be in contact with everyone and do what I needed to do this
evening. However, I needed to get the
code for the Wi-Fi from the hotel receptionist.
I needed to dig my computer out of the trunk of the car, set it up and wait
until I could log in to the Wi-Fi before I could begin. These are not complicated transactions, but
they do take a few minutes to get up and running. How much more so is it with the life
transformation and integration that we are expecting of people when they come to
My experience reminded me of the dimmer switch analogy that
I use in my book about evangelism, More
Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening. There are many things going on in our lives
that keep us from making quick decisions about profound changes. We need to integrate our knowledge of God and
decide to apply that knowledge in the everyday decisions of life we make.
This integration is what I mean
when I talk about the dimmer switch. One
element in our lives is our knowledge about God. This may be minimal, just as there is very
little light when we turn the dimmer switch down low. On the other hand, we may have been learning the
truths of Scripture all our lives and have a great deal of knowledge about God
and His ways. This would be like when we
turn the dimmer switch up high and brighten the whole room.
In either of these cases, where
the dimmer switch knob is located makes no difference if the knob has not been
pushed to turn the light on. This action
requires a decision from us. We must
decide to turn the light on. When both
actions take place, we turn on the dimmer switch when we choose to begin to
apply our knowledge of God to our daily lives.
Then integration and life transformation begin to take place.